Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after a long period of forty days and the six Sundays of Lent that we have spent before this night, we have finally come to the culmination of all of our preparations for this most important event in all the history of mankind and in the history of our salvation. For this very night we commemorate that time when Christ Our Lord, our Crucified Saviour, rose gloriously from the dead, overcoming sin and death, and therefore barring open the gates of hell, showing the triumphant victory of God and His faithful ones against the forces of evil and darkness, against sin and death.

Tonight as we gather together to celebrate the coming of Easter, we rejoice greatly as we finally see the great Hope and Light that Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour had shown us by His glorious Resurrection, that we know that sin no longer has its hold on us, and death no longer has the final say over us. There is life and existence after death, when our physical bodies meet its end in this world, because we shall rise and join our Risen Lord in a new and blissful existence, sharing in the joy of all the Angels and saints in Heaven, to be forever with God and to be in His light and Presence always.

That is why we sing with great joy the Gloria tonight, praising God and singing our joyful heart out, glorifying Our Lord Who has conquered sin and death, and Who has loved us all so much and so dearly that He has done all these things for us, as we look back to our Holy Week journey to remind us of everything that He had done for us. We sing the great Alleluia, the triumphant proclamation of praise and joy, which we have not sung for the entirety of the season of Lent, as we look forward to the true and great joy of seeing God’s light and salvation in our midst, reflecting the joy that the disciples had upon seeing that empty tomb and then later on, seeing the Risen Lord in their midst.

In our many Scripture readings tonight, traditionally numbering seven from the Old Testament, the First to the Seventh Reading, and then two from the New Testament, the Epistle and the Gospel reading, we have heard the long account of God’s plan of salvation for each and every one of us from the beginning of Creation, culminating at the Lord’s Resurrection in our Gospel today where all of God’s plans and promises were accomplished and fulfilled perfectly. Let us look back into those readings to remind ourselves of how beloved we are in God’s eyes that He has done so much for our redemption and liberation from sin and death. We are reminded that He has loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son, that through Him we will not perish but have eternal life.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard of the account of the Creation of the universe, the whole world as know it. Through His will and by His words, all of the universe we created, God creating everything that exists and made everything as He desired it to be, all good and perfect as we heard the Lord Himself saying. He made the firmaments, the Heaven and the Earth, and all the living things, from the smallest to the greatest. The Lord then lastly also made us all mankind, the pinnacle of all His creation, as creatures made in His own image and appearance. He gave us the Spirit of life, and made us all good and perfect.

We may wonder why God had created us all in the first place. After all, is God not perfect and has everything? God has no need or any shortage of anything. He has perfect love shared within Himself in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But the reason why God created us all and everything is indeed that love is not truly full and wholesome unless it is shared with even more people. That is why God created all of us, in order to share His overflowing love with us. We were always destined and meant to live in pure happiness and bliss with God, just as how the Gardens of Eden were described as a blissful and perfect place.

It was by our own failure to resist the temptations to sin, in giving to the desires of our hearts that led us into our downfall. Satan, the great adversary plotted for our destruction and downfall, and he knew well how to tempt us. He tempted Eve and eventually Adam through her to disobey God’s commands by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and as a result sin entered by into the hearts of mankind. Ever since then, sin has reigned over us and we have been made defiled and corrupted, and thus we are no longer able to be hiwith God. That was why Adam and Eve were both cast out of Eden.

God created all things good and perfect, and that includes us all as well, brothers and sisters in Christ. But sin enslaved us all, corrupted us and made us all separated from God. Yet, God did not give up on us, and He still loved us all the same. He could have destroyed and annihilated us by the mere power of His will, or to condemn us all to hellfire just as what happened to Satan and all the fallen angels, but He clearly did not do so. He loves us all mankind beyond anything else, as His own most beloved ones, as His beloved children that He has formed and made His own. Because of this, it is natural that God wants to find us and be reconciled with us.

Hence, He promised us His salvation that He would send into our midst, and He made a Covenant with us through Abraham as His effort to rebuild the relationship that has been broken with us, and this Covenant was meant as a reminder of the great love that He has for each and every one of us, that in the end, He did not desire our destruction but instead our reconciliation with Him. That Covenant serves as a reminder of this love that God has for each and every one of us. And most importantly, a Covenant involves both parties that take part in the Covenant, and just as God has reached out to us with love and mercy, then we have to respond to Him as well.

Then, we ought to remember how the Lord blessed and fulfilled His promises to Abraham, and as He has promised to him, he became the father of many nations and many people. These descendants of Abraham, the Israelites, God’s chosen people was led by God to Egypt during the time of great famine, and then blessed them and made them prosper greatly in the land of Egypt which led to them being enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But God again showed His great love and compassion for His people, in sending Moses, whom He called to be His servant, and then through Moses and his brother Aaron, God performed many great miracles and signs, sending ten Great Plagues to persuade and force the Egyptians to let His people go free.

In our third reading today, we heard that iconic moment in the history of God’s people, recounting to us the moment when the Israelites were pursued all the way to the edge of the sea, out of which there was no where else to go. They were at the threshold of escaping and leaving behind the land of their slavery towards freedom, on their way towards the Promised Land at Canaan, promised to them and their ancestors from the days of Abraham. They were all afraid and fearful seeing all of the armies and the chariots of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but God was with His people, and He did not just stop those armies and chariots with a great pillar of fire, but He also opened the sea itself before them.

I am sure all of us are familiar with the story of how the Israelites walked through the sea on the dry seabed, and how they were led to the other side through the water, and then the Lord brought the water and the waves down against the Egyptians who tried to pursue after the people of Israel, crushing their armies and chariots, winning a great victory and triumph for the people He had chosen and loved as His own. And this reading is very symbolic for today in particular especially because this night is typically when the catechumens are baptised and therefore welcomed into the Church, and for all of us who have already been baptised, we are reminded of our baptismal promises.

For just as the Israelites were led through the water of the sea, from the land of their slavery into the land of freedom, therefore the catechumens who have committed themselves to the Lord are led through the water of baptism, to leave behind their past enslaved state under sin and death, and be freed by the grace of God to enter into the freedom and true joy that He has called us all to come towards. When we are immersed in the waters of baptism, we leave behind our past lives and are washed clean, becoming a clean slate, beginning a new stage in our lives and existence, transformed into God’s own adopted children, His sons and daughters. And all of us who have been baptised earlier are reminded of this moment when our lives are transformed forever.

And through the other Scripture readings that we have heard today, in the prophets and how they speak of God and His care and love for His people, reminding them of everything that He has done for them, again and again throughout the ages, and all of us are called to refocus our attention on the Lord, keeping in mind that God has been so loving, kind and merciful that He has always been willing to reach out to us, forgiving us and welcoming us back to Him whenever we sinned. The Lord has given us all the means for us to return to Him, because He loves us so much more than He despises our sins. Nonetheless, as mentioned before, because of sin we have been corrupted and made defiled, and we have been separated from God because of this.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God gave us His only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be Our Saviour, and through Him all of us have received the assurance of eternal life, all because of everything that happened that time which we celebrate now, the moment when He overcame sin and death, gloriously triumphant through His Resurrection. By His Passion, His suffering and death, Christ has taken upon Himself all of our sins and faults, our mistakes and all the punishments due to those sins. He redeemed us by offering Himself as the perfect and most worthy offering, the only one by which all of us mankind can be absolved from our many, innumerable sins.

While Our Lord endured death and descended into hell after His passing on Good Friday, He did not remain in death forever, showing us all that death has finally been overcome, for the Master of Life and Death Himself has come to liberate all those who have been awaiting Him to see the hope of their salvation. That was why when the Lord rose gloriously in His Resurrection, many eyewitnesses saw the tombs of the righteous were opened and the souls of the deceased righteous went out and were taken by God to their rightful place in the afterlife.

According to Church tradition and teachings, the Lord went down into hell, in what is known as the harrowing of Hell, as God liberated all those who were deemed worthy of salvation and brought them out of their waiting place, and you can just imagine the kind of joy that those souls of the faithful departed must have upon witnessing the light of the Lord coming into their midst, liberating them, much as how the Israelites were led out of their slavery in Egypt into the freedom, and to the Promised Land. And all of us share in this same joy because through baptism, in fact, we have also shared in the death of Christ, dying to our old ways of life, and striving henceforth, to live lives truly worthy of God.

That is why we rejoice this Easter, brothers and sisters in Christ. We rejoice because through Christ, we have received the assurance of true happiness and we are all made His beloved children, called to be His disciples, and through our common baptism, we have been marked as God’s people. We are now members of God’s Church, His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one united Body of Christ. However, at the same time, we also have to remember and keep in mind that we cannot be idle in the living of our faith.

That is because although today, the Easter Vigil is the pinnacle of our entire liturgical year, remembering and celebrating the single most important event in our entire human history and existence, but we must remember that Easter and our baptism is not the end journey, but only the beginning of the journey towards God. Just as the Israelites in the past have had to travel for an entire forty years, before they actually reached and entered into the Promised Land, and they fell again and again into sin, the same applies to us all as well. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly temptations and our desires, then we can easily fall back into our old sinful path and way of life again.

We have to keep this in mind as we celebrate the most wonderful and joyous festivities happening today this Easter Vigil. That we must not forget our calling in life as Christians. We have to follow the Lord and walk in His path, having seen the hope of His light and salvation, and the empty tomb showing us hope that there is path beyond sin and death. Through Christ, His loving sacrifice on the Cross and most importantly, His resurrection from the dead, He has shown us the path out of darkness and into the light.

God has established a new Covenant with us, and as we all should be aware of, this Covenant requires us to be actively doing our part of this Covenant, and means that we have to be active in contributing to the Church, in living our lives with faith, dedicating ourselves to serve Our Lord in all times and opportunities. We have to walk this path with faith, and realise that there is still a long path forward for us. Let us all be inspirations and good examples for one another, and be good role models and witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection in our community and world today. Let us all be true Christians in all things, and proclaim the Lord in all opportunities.

May the joy of Our Risen Lord be with us always, and may He empower us all to remain firm in faith, and that we may always ever be committed to Him, no matter what challenges, trials and temptations may be present in our path. May God bless us always, in everything we do, and may all of us have a blessed Easter season and celebration. Alleluia! Our Lord is Risen! Amen!

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

At that time, on the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, the women went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the Body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly stood before them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You will not find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story. Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab and 17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 6 : 3-11

Do you not know that in baptism which unites us to Christ we are all baptised and plunged into His death? By this baptism in His death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we begin walking in a new life. If we have been joined to Him by dying a death like His so we shall be by a resurrection like His.

We know that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that we may no longer serve sin – if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again and death has no more dominion over Him. For by dying, He is dead to sin once and for all, and now the life that He lives is life with God.

So you, too, must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 41 : 3, 5bcde and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

Alternative Psalm (If there is Baptism)

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Alternative Psalm (If there is Baptism)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land she defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols. Then I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions.”

“But when they were brought to other nations, My holy Name was profaned because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!’ Then I was concerned for My holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed.”

“Now you shall say to the people of Israel : It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone. I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you.”

“For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land. Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.”

“I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I shall put My Spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be your God.”

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit? You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever.

Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace. Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He Who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He Who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He Who sends the light, and it goes, Who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator. It is He Who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved. Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans.

She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life but those who abandon her will die. Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Fifth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Fifth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, I will fulfil in you My promises to David. See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH.

For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : It will not return to Me idle, but It shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.